Tag Archives: Adobe

Apple intros long-awaited new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR

By Barry Goch

The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC19) kicked off on Monday with a keynote from Apple CEO Tim Cook, where he announced the eagerly awaited new Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR.

Tim Cook’s keynote

In recent years, many working in M&E felt as if Apple had moved away from supporting creative pros in this industry. There was the fumbled rollout of FCPX and then the “trash can” MacPro with its limited upgrade path. Well, our patience has finally paid off and our faith in Apple restored. This week Apple delivered products beyond expectation.

This post pro, for one, is very happy that Apple is back making serious hardware for creative professionals. The tight integration of hardware and software, along with Apple’s build quality, makes its products unique in the market. There is confidence and freedom using Macs that creatives love, and the tower footprint is back!

The computer itself is a more than worthy successor to the original Mac Pro tower design. It’s the complete opposite concept of the current trash-can-shaped Mac Pro, with its closed design and limited upgradeability. The new Mac Pro’s motherboard is connected to a stainless steel space frame offering 360-degree access to the internals, which include 12 memory slots with up to 1.5TB of RAM capacity and eight PCI slots, which is the most ever in a Mac — more than the venerable 9600 Power Mac. The innovative graphics architecture in the new Mac Pro is an expansion module, or MPX module, which allows the installation of two graphic cards tied together through the Infinity Fabric link. This allows for data transfers up to five times faster between the GPUs on the PCIe bus.

Also new is the Apple Afterburner hardware accelerator card, which is a field programmable gate array (FPGA) hardware card for accelerating ProRes and ProRes RAW workflows. Afterburner supports playback of up to three streams of 8K ProRes RAW or up to 12 streams of 4K ProRes RAW. The FPGA allows new instruction to be installed on the chipset, giving the MacPro Afterburner card a wealth of possibilities for future updates.

Plays Well With Others
Across the street from the San Jose Convention Center, where the keynote was held, Apple set up “The Studio” in the historic San Jose Civic. The venue was divided into areas of creative specialization: video, photography, music production, 3D and AR. It was really great to see complete workflows and to be able to interface with Apple creative pros. Oh, and Apple has announced support from third-party developers, such as Blackmagic, Avid, Adobe, Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Foundry, Red, Epic Games, Unity, Pixar and more.

Metal is Apple’s replacement for OpenCL/GL. It’s a low level language for interfacing with GPUs. Working closely with AMD, the new Mac Pro will use native Metal rendering for Resolve, OToy Octane, Maxon Cinema 4D and Red.

Blackmagic’s Grant Perry and Barry Goch at The Studio.

DaVinci Resolve is a color correction and online editing software for high-end film and television work. “It was the first professional software to adopt Metal and now, with the new Mac Pro and Afterburner, we’re seeing full-quality 8K performance in realtime with color correction and effects, something we could never dream of doing before,” explains Blackmagic CEO Grant Petty. “DaVinci Resolve running on the new Mac Pro is the fastest way to edit, grade and finish movies and TV shows.”

According to Avid’s director of product management for audio, Francois Quereuil, “Avid’s Pro Tools team is blown away by the unprecedented processing power of the new Mac Pro, and thanks to its internal expansion capabilities, up to six Pro Tools HDX cards can be installed within the system — a first for Avid’s flagship audio workstation. We’re now able to deliver never-before-seen performance and capabilities for audio production in a single system and deliver a platform that professional users in music and post have been eagerly awaiting.”

“Apple continues to innovate for video professionals,” reports Adobe’s VP of digital video and audio, Steven Warner. “With the power offered by the new Mac Pro, editors will be able to work with 8K without the need for any proxy workflows in a future release of Premiere Pro.”

And from Apple? Expect versions of FCPX and Logic to be available with release of the new MacPro and rest assured they will fully use the new hardware.

The Cost
The price for a Mac Pro with an eight-core Xeon W processor, 32GB of RAM, an AMD Radeon Pro 580X GPU and a 256GB SSD is $5999. The price for the fully loaded version with the 28-core Xeon processor, Afterburner, two MDX modules with four AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo graphics cards and 4TB of SSD internal storage will come in around $20,000, give or take. It will be available this fall.

Pro Display XDR
The new Pro Display XDR is amazing. I was invited into a calibrated viewing environment that also housed Dell, Eizo, Sony BVM-X300 and Sony-X310 HDR monitors. We were shown the typical extreme bright and colorful animal footage for monitor demos. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen more shots of people from a TV show or feature and not the usual extreme footage used to show off how bright the monitor could get.

For example, it would have been cool to see the Jony Ive video — which plays on the Apple site and describes the offerings of the MacPro and the monitor — talking about the design of the product on the monitor.

Anyway, the big hang-up with the monitor is the stand. The price tag of $1,000 for a monitor stand is a lot compared to the price of the monitor itself. When the price of the stand was announced during the keynote, there was a loud gasp, which unfortunately dampened the excitement and momentum of the new releases. It too will be available in the fall.

Display Specs
This Retina 6K 32-inch (diagonal) display offers 6016×3384 pixels (20.4 million pixels) at 218 pixels per inch. The sustained brightness is 1000-nits sustained (full screen) with 1600 nits peak and a contrast ratio of one million to one. It works in P3 wide color gamut with 10-bit depth for 1.073 billion colors. Available reference modes include HDR video (P3-ST 2084), Digital Cinema (P3-DCI), Digital Cinema (P3-D65) and HDTV video (BT.709-BT.1886). Supported HDR formats are HLG, HDR 10 and Dolby Vision.

Portrait mode

The Cost
The standard glass version is $4,999. The nano-texture anti-glare glass version is $5,999. As mentioned, the Pro Stand is $999 and VESA mount adapter is $199. Both are sold separately and have a Thunderbolt 3 connection only.

Pros and Cons
MacPro Pros: innovative design, expandability
Cons: Lack of Nvidia support, no Afterburner support for other formats beyond ProRes and no optical audio output.

Pro Display XDR Pros: Ability to sustain 1,000 nits, beautiful design and execution.
Cons: Lack of Rec 2020 color space and ACES profile, plus the high cost of the display stand.

Summing Up
The Pro is back for Apple and third-party apps like Avid and Resolve. I really can’t wait to get my hands on the new MacPro and Pro Display XDR and put them through their paces.


Barry Goch is a finishing artist at LA’s The Foundation as well as a UCLA Extension Instructor, Post Production. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gochya

NAB 2019: First impressions

By Mike McCarthy

There are always a slew of new product announcements during the week of NAB, and this year was no different. As a Premiere editor, the developments from Adobe are usually the ones most relevant to my work and life. Similar to last year, Adobe was able to get their software updates released a week before NAB, instead of for eventual release months later.

The biggest new feature in the Adobe Creative Cloud apps is After Effects’ new “Content Aware Fill” for video. This will use AI to generate image data to automatically replace a masked area of video, based on surrounding pixels and surrounding frames. This functionality has been available in Photoshop for a while, but the challenge of bringing that to video is not just processing lots of frames but keeping the replaced area looking consistent across the changing frames so it doesn’t stand out over time.

The other key part to this process is mask tracking, since masking the desired area is the first step in that process. Certain advances have been made here, but based on tech demos I saw at Adobe Max, more is still to come, and that is what will truly unlock the power of AI that they are trying to tap here. To be honest, I have been a bit skeptical of how much AI will impact film production workflows, since AI-powered editing has been terrible, but AI-powered VFX work seems much more promising.

Adobe’s other apps got new features as well, with Premiere Pro adding Free-Form bins for visually sorting through assets in the project panel. This affects me less, as I do more polishing than initial assembly when I’m using Premiere. They also improved playback performance for Red files, acceleration with multiple GPUs and certain 10-bit codecs. Character Animator got a better puppet rigging system, and Audition got AI-powered auto-ducking tools for automated track mixing.

Blackmagic
Elsewhere, Blackmagic announced a new version of Resolve, as expected. Blackmagic RAW is supported on a number of new products, but I am not holding my breath to use it in Adobe apps anytime soon, similar to ProRes RAW. (I am just happy to have regular ProRes output available on my PC now.) They also announced a new 8K Hyperdeck product that records quad 12G SDI to HEVC files. While I don’t think that 8K will replace 4K television or cinema delivery anytime soon, there are legitimate markets that need 8K resolution assets. Surround video and VR would be one, as would live background screening instead of greenscreening for composite shots. No image replacement in post, as it is capturing in-camera, and your foreground objects are accurately “lit” by the screens. I expect my next major feature will be produced with that method, but the resolution wasn’t there for the director to use that technology for the one I am working on now (enter 8K…).

AJA
AJA was showing off the new Ki Pro Go, which records up to four separate HD inputs to H.264 on USB drives. I assume this is intended for dedicated ISO recording of every channel of a live-switched event or any other multicam shoot. Each channel can record up to 1080p60 at 10-bit color to H264 files in MP4 or MOV and up to 25Mb.

HP
HP had one of their existing Z8 workstations on display, demonstrating the possibilities that will be available once Intel releases their upcoming DIMM-based Optane persistent memory technology to the market. I have loosely followed the Optane story for quite a while, but had not envisioned this impacting my workflow at all in the near future due to software limitations. But HP claims that there will be options to treat Optane just like system memory (increasing capacity at the expense of speed) or as SSD drive space (with DIMM slots having much lower latency to the CPU than any other option). So I will be looking forward to testing it out once it becomes available.

Dell
Dell was showing off their relatively new 49-inch double-wide curved display. The 4919DW has a resolution of 5120×1440, making it equivalent to two 27-inch QHD displays side by side. I find that 32:9 aspect ratio to be a bit much for my tastes, with 21:9 being my preference, but I am sure there are many users who will want the extra width.

Digital Anarchy
I also had a chat with the people at Digital Anarchy about their Premiere Pro-integrated Transcriptive audio transcription engine. Having spent the last three months editing a movie that is split between English and Mandarin dialogue, needing to be fully subtitled in both directions, I can see the value in their tool-set. It harnesses the power of AI-powered transcription engines online and integrates the results back into your Premiere sequence, creating an accurate script as you edit the processed clips. In my case, I would still have to handle the translations separately once I had the Mandarin text, but this would allow our non-Mandarin speaking team members to edit the Mandarin assets in the movie. And it will be even more useful when it comes to creating explicit closed captioning and subtitles, which we have been doing manually on our current project. I may post further info on that product once I have had a chance to test it out myself.

Summing Up
There were three halls of other products to look through and check out, but overall, I was a bit underwhelmed at the lack of true innovation I found at the show this year.

Full disclosure, I was only able to attend for the first two days of the exhibition, so I may have overlooked something significant. But based on what I did see, there isn’t much else that I am excited to try out or that I expect to have much of a serious impact on how I do my various jobs.

It feels like most of the new things we are seeing are merely commoditized versions of products that may originally have been truly innovative when they were initially released, but now are just slightly more fleshed out versions over time.

There seems to be much less pioneering of truly new technology and more repackaging of existing technologies into other products. I used to come to NAB to see all the flashy new technologies and products, but now it feels like the main thing I am doing there is a series of annual face-to-face meetings, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Until next year…


Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with over 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been involved in pioneering new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.

Sundance Videos: Watch our editor interviews

postPerspective traveled to Sundance for the first time this year, and it was great. In addition to attending some parties, brunches and panels, we had the opportunity to interview a number of editors who were in Park City to help promote their various projects. (Watch here.)

Billy McMillin

We caught up with the editors on the comedy docu-series Documentary Now!, Michah Gardner and Jordan Kim. We spoke to Courtney Ware about cutting the film Light From Light, as well as Billy McMillin, editor on the documentary Mike Wallace is Here. We also chatted with Phyllis Housen, the editor on director Chinonye Chukwu’s Clemency and Kent Kincannon who cut Hannah Pearl Utt’s comedy, Before you Know It. Finally, we sat down with Bryan Mason, who had the dual roles of cinematographer and editor on Animals.

We hope you enjoy watching these interviews as much as we enjoyed shooting them.

Don’t forget, click here to view!

Oh, and a big shout out to Twain Richardson from Jamaica’s Frame of Reference, who edited and color graded the videos. Thanks Twain!

New codec, workflow options via Red, Nvidia and Adobe

By Mike McCarthy

There were two announcements last week that will impact post production workflows. The first was the launch of Red’s new SDK, which leverages Nvidia’s GPU-accelerated CUDA framework to deliver realtime playback of 8K Red footage. I’ll get to the other news shortly. Nvidia was demonstrating an early version of this technology at Adobe Max in October, and I have been looking forward to this development since I am about to start post on a feature film shot on the Red Monstro camera. This should effectively render the RedRocket accelerator cards obsolete, replacing them with cheaper, multipurpose hardware that can also accelerate other computational tasks.

While accelerating playback of 8K content at full resolution requires a top-end RTX series card from Nvidia (Quadro RTX 6000, Titan RTX or GeForce RTX 2080Ti), the technology is not dependent on RTX’s new architecture (RT and Tensor cores), allowing earlier generation hardware to accelerate smooth playback at smaller frame sizes. Lots of existing Red footage is shot at 4K and 6K, and playback of these files will be accelerated on widely deployed legacy products from previous generations of Nvidia GPU architecture. It will still be a while before this functionality is in the hands of end users, because now Adobe, Apple, Blackmagic and other software vendors have to integrate the new SDK functionality into their individual applications. But hopefully we will see those updates hitting the market soon (targeting late Q1 of 2019).

Encoding ProRes on Windows via Adobe apps
The other significant update, which is already available to users as of this week, is Adobe’s addition of ProRes encoding support on its video apps in Windows. Developed by Apple, ProRes encoding has been available on Mac for a long time, and ProRes decoding and playback has been available on Windows for over 10 years. But creating ProRes files on Windows has always been a challenge. Fixing this was less a technical challenge than a political one, as Apple owns the codec and it is not technically a standard. So while there were some hacks available at various points during that time, Apple has severely restricted the official encoding options available on Windows… until now.

With the 13.0.2 release of Premiere Pro and Media Encoder, as well as the newest update to After Effects, Adobe users on Windows systems can now create ProRes files in whatever flavor they happen to need. This is especially useful since many places require delivery of final products in the ProRes format. In this case, the new export support is obviously a win all the way around.

Adobe Premiere

Now users have yet another codec option for all of their intermediate files, prompting another look at the question: Which codec is best for your workflow? With this release, Adobe users have at least three major options for high-quality intermediate codecs: Cineform, DNxHR and now ProRes. I am limiting the scope to integrated cross-platform codecs supporting 10-bit color depth, variable levels of image compression and customizable frame sizes. Here is a quick overview of the strengths and weaknesses of each option:

ProRes
ProRes was created by Apple over 10 years ago and has become the de-facto standard throughout the industry, regardless of the fact that it is entirely owned by Apple. ProRes is now fully cross-platform compatible, has options for both YUV and RGB color and has six variations, all of which support at least 10-bit color depth. The variable bit rate compression scheme scales well with content complexity, so encoding black or static images doesn’t require as much space as full-motion video. It also supports alpha channels with compression, but only in the 444 variants of the codec.

Recent tests on my Windows 10 workstation resulted in ProRes taking 3x to 5x as much CPU power to playback as similar DNxHR of Cineform files, especially as frame sizes get larger. The codec supports 8K frame sizes but playback will require much more processing power. I can’t even playback UHD files in ProRes 444 at full resolution, while the Cineform and DNxHR files have no problem, even at 444. This is less of concern if you are only working at 1080p.

Multiply those file sizes by four for UHD content (and by 16 for 8K content).

Cineform
Cineform, which has been available since 2004, was acquired by GoPro in 2011. They have licensed the codec to Adobe, (among other vendors) and it is available as “GoPro Cineform” in the AVI or QuickTime sections of the Adobe export window. Cineform is a wavelet compression codec, with 10-bit YUV and 12-bit RGB variants, which like ProRes support compressed alpha channels in the RGB variant. The five levels of encoding quality are selected separately from the format, so higher levels of compression are available for 4444 content compared to the limited options available in the other codecs.

It usually plays back extremely efficiently on Windows, but my recent tests show that encoding to the format is much slower than it used to be. And while it has some level of support outside of Adobe applications, it is not as universally recognized as ProRes or DNxHD.

DNxHD
DNxHD was created by Avid for compressed HD playback and has now been extended to DNxHR (high resolution). It is a fixed bit rate codec, with each variant having a locked multiplier based on resolution and frame rate. This makes it easy to calculate storage needs but wastes space for files that are black or contain a lot of static content. It is available in MXF and Mov wrappers and has five levels of quality. The top option is 444 RGB, and all variants support alpha channels in Mov but uncompressed, which takes a lot of space. For whatever reason, Adobe has greatly optimized DNxHR playback in Premiere Pro, of all variants, in both MXF and Mov wrappers. On my project 6Below, I was able to get 6K 444 files to playback, with lots of effects, without dropping frames. The encodes to and from DNxHR are faster in Adobe apps as well.

So for most PC Adobe users, DNxHR-LB (low bandwidth) is probably the best codec to use for intermediate work. We are using it to offline my current project, with 2.2K DNxHR-LB, Mov files. People with a heavy Mac interchange may lean toward ProRes, but up your CPU specs for the same level of application performance.


Mike McCarthy is an online editor/workflow consultant with 10 years of experience on feature films and commercials. He has been involved in pioneering new solutions for tapeless workflows, DSLR filmmaking and multi-screen and surround video experiences. Check out his site.

Lenovo intros 15-inch VR-ready ThinkPad P52

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad P52 is a 15-inch, VR-ready and ISV-certified mobile workstation featuring an Nvidia Quadro P3200 GPU. The all-new hexa-core Intel Xeon CPU doubles the memory capacity to 128GB and increases PCIe storage. Lenovo says the ThinkPad excels in animation and visual effects project storage, the creation of large models and datasets, and realtime playback.

“More and more, M&E artists have the need to create on-the-go,” reports Lenovo senior worldwide industry manager for M&E Rob Hoffmann. “Having desktop-like capabilities in a 15-inch mobile workstation, allows artists to remain creative anytime, anywhere.”

The workstation targets traditional ISV workflows, as well as AR and VR content creation or deployment of mobile AI. Lenovo points to Virtalis, a VR and advanced visualization company, as an example of who might take advantage of the workstation.

“Our virtual reality solutions help clients better understand data and interact with it. Being able to take these solutions mobile with the ThinkPad P52 gives us expanded flexibility to bring the technology to life for clients in their unique environments,” says Steve Carpenter, head of solutions development for Virtalis. “The ThinkPad P52 powering our Virtalis Visionary Render software is perfect for engineering and design professionals looking for a portable solution to take their first steps into the endless possibilities of VR.”

The P52 also will feature a 4K UHD display with 400nits, 100% Adobe color gamut and 10-bit color depth. There are dual USB-C Thunderbolt ports supporting the display of 8K video, allowing users to take advantage of the ThinkPad Thunderbolt Workstation Dock.

The ThinkPad P52 will be available later this month.

A glimpse at what was new at NAB

By Lance Holte

I made the trek out to Las Vegas last week for the annual NAB show to take in the latest in post production technology, discuss new trends and products and get lost in a sea of exhibits. With over 1,700 exhibitors, it’s impossible to see everything (especially in the two days I was there), but here are a handful of notable things that caught my eye.

Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve Studio 14: While the “non-studio” version is still free, it’s hard to beat the $299 license for the full version of Resolve. As 4K and 3D media becomes increasingly prevalent, and with the release of their micro and mini panels, Resolve can be a very affordable solution for editors, mobile colorists and DITs.

The new editorial and audio tools are particularly appealing to someone like me, who is often more hands-on on the editorial side than the grading side of post. To that regard, the new tracking features look to provide extra ease of use for quick and simple grades. I also love that Blackmagic has gotten rid of the dongles, which removes the hassle of tracking numerous dongles in a post environment where systems and rooms are swapped regularly. Oh, and there’s bin, clip and timeline locking for collaborative workflows, which easily pushes Resolve into the competition for an end-to-end post solution.

Adobe Premiere CC 2017 with After Effects and Audition Adobe Premiere is typically my editorial application of choice, and the increased integration of AE and Audition promise to make an end-to-end Creative Cloud workflow even smoother. I’ve been hoping for a revamp of Premiere’s title tool for a while, and the Essential Graphics panel/new Title Tool appears to greatly increase and streamline Premiere’s motion graphics capabilities — especially as someone who does almost all my graphics work in After Effects and Photoshop. The more integrated the various applications can be, the better; and Adobe has been pushing that aspect for some time now.

On the audio side, Premiere’s Essential Sound Panel tools for volume matching, organization, cleanup and other effects without going directly into Audition (or exporting for ProTools, etc.) will be really helpful, especially for smaller projects and offline mixes. And as a last note, the new Camera Shake Deblur effect in After Effects is fantastic.

Dell UltraSharp 4K HDR Monitor — There were a lot of great looking HDR monitors at the show, but I liked that this one fell in the middle of the pack in terms of price point ($2K), with solid specs (1000 nits, 97.7% of P3, and 76.9% of Rec. 2020) and a reasonable size (27 inches). Seems like a good editorial or VFX display solution, though the price might be pushing budgetary constraints for smaller post houses. I wish it was DCI 4K instead of UHD and a little more affordable, but that will hopefully come with time.

On that note, I really like HP’s DreamColor Z31x Studio Display. It’s not HDR, but it’s 99% of the P3 colorspace, and it’s DCI 4K — as well as 2K, by multiplying every pixel at 2K resolution into exactly 4 pixels — so there’s no odd-numbered scaling and sharpening required. Also, I like working with large monitors, especially at high resolutions. It offers automated (and schedulable) color calibration, though I’d love to see a non-automated display in the future if it could bring the price down. I could see the HP monitor as a great alternative to using more expensive HDR displays for the majority of workstations at many post houses.

As another side note, Flanders Scientific’s OLED 55-inch HDR display was among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, but with numerous built-in interfaces and scaling capabilities, it’s likely to come at a higher price.

Canon 4K600STZ 4K HDR laser projector — This looks to be a great projection solution for small screening rooms or large editorial bays. It offers huge 4096×2400 resolution, is fairly small and compact, and apparently has very few restraints when it comes to projection angle, which would be nice for a theatrical edit bay (or a really nice home theater). The laser light source is also attractive because it will be low maintenance. At $63K, it’s at the more affordable end of 4K projector pricing.

Mettle 360 Degree/VR Depth plug-ins: I haven’t worked with a ton of 360-degree media, but I have dealt with the challenges of doing depth-related effects in a traditional single-camera space, so the fact that Mettle is doing depth-of-field effects, dolly effects and depth volumetric effects with 360-degree/VR content is pretty incredible. Plus, their plug-ins are designed to integrate with Premiere and After Effects, which is good news for an Adobe power user. I believe they’re still going to be in beta for a while, but I’m very curious to see how their plug-ins play out.

Finally, in terms of purely interesting tech, Sony’s Bravia 4K acoustic surface TVs are pretty wild. Their displays are OLED, so they look great, and the fact that the screen vibrates to create sound instead of having separate speakers or an attached speaker bar is awfully cool. Even at very close viewing, the screen doesn’t appear to move, though it can clearly be felt vibrating when touched. A vibrating acoustic surface raises some questions about mounting, so it may not be perfect for every environment, but interesting nonetheless.


Lance Holte is an LA-based post production supervisor and producer. He has spoken and taught at such events as NAB, SMPTE, SIGGRAPH and Createasphere. You can email him at lance@lanceholte.com.

Steve Holyhead

AJA brings on Steve Holyhead from Fox Broadcasting

Steve Holyhead has joined AJA as senior product manager for desktop products. He joins AJA from Fox Broadcasting Company where he was director of technical operations.

Holyhead recently moved to Grass Valley, where AJA is headquartered, from Los Angeles. In addition to working at Fox, his 20-plus years of industry experience includes developing professional digital video workflows with BloomCast, managing post operations at Discovery Communications and working as a technology evangelist, producer and technical marketing manager for both Discreet (now Autodesk) and Avid. He has also developed Avid and Adobe training courses for multiple partners, including Lynda.com.

“Steve brings a blend of real-world production and technology developer experience to AJA. His understanding of production, broadcast and post, together with his experience both designing enterprise scale workflows and as a master trainer for Adobe, Apple and Avid products, will make powerful contributions to the success of our customers,” says Nick Rashby, president of AJA.

Updates to Adobe Creative Cloud include project sharing, more

By Brady Betzel

Adobe has announced team project sharing!! You read that right — the next Adobe Creative Cloud update, to be released later this year, will have the one thing I’ve always said kept Adobe from punching into Avid’s NLE stake with episodic TV and film editors.

While “one thing” is a bit of hyperbole, Team Projects will be much more than just simple sharing within Adobe Premiere Pro. Team Projects, in its initial stage, will also work with Adobe After Effects, but not with Adobe Audition… at least not in the initial release. Technically speaking, sharing projects within Creative Cloud seems like it will follow a check-in/check-out workflow, allowing you to approve another person’s updates to override yours or vice-versa.

During a virtual press demo, I was shown how the Team Projects will work. I asked if it would work “offline,” meaning without Internet connection. Adobe’s representative said that Team Projects will work with intermittent Internet disconnections, but not fully offline. I asked this because many companies do not allow their NLEs or their storage to be attached to any Internet-facing network connections. So if this is important to you, you may need to do a little more research once we actually can get our hands on this release.

My next question was if Team Projects was a paid service. The Adobe rep said they are not talking the business side of this update yet. I took this as an immediate yes, which is fine, but officially they have no comment on pricing or payment structure, or if it will even cost extra at all.

Immediately after I asked my last question, I realized that this will definitely tie in with the Creative Cloud service, which likely means a monthly fee. Then I wondered where exactly will my projects live? In the cloud? I know the media can live locally on something like an Avid ISIS or Nexis, but will the projects be shared over the Internet? Will we be able to share individual sequences and/or bins or just entire projects? There are so many questions and so many possibilities in my mind, it really could change the multiple editor NLE paradigm if Adobe can manage it properly. No pressure Adobe.

Other Updates
Some other Premiere Pro updates include: improved caption and subtitling tools; updated Lumetri Color tools, including much needed improvement to the HSL secondaries color picker; automatic recognition of VR/360 video and what type of mapping it needs; improved virtual reality workflow; destination publishing will now include Behance (No Instagram export option?); improved Live Text Templates, including a simplified workflow that allows you to share Live Text Templates with other users (will even sync Fonts if they aren’t present from Typekit) and without need for an After Effects License; native DNxHD and DNxHR QuickTime export support, audio effects from Adobe Audition, Global FX mute to toggle on and off all video effects in a sequence; and, best of all, a visual keyboard to map shortcuts! Finally, another prayer for Premiere Pro has been answered. Unfortunately, After Effects users will have to wait for a visual keyboard for shortcut assignment (bummer).

After Effects has some amazing updates in addition to Project Sharing, including a new 3D render engine! Wow! I know this has been an issue for anybody trying to do 3D inside of After Effects via Cineware. Most people will purchase VideoCopilot’s Element 3D to get around this, but for those that want to work directly with Maxon’s Cinema 4D, this may be the update that alleviates some of your 3D disdain via Cineware. They even made mention that you do not need a GPU for this to work well. Oh, how I would love for this to come to fruition. Finally, there’s a new video preview architecture for faster playback that will hopefully allow for a much more fluid and dynamic playback experience.

After Effects C4D RenderAdobe Character Animator has some updates too. If you haven’t played with Character Animator you need to download it now and just watch the simple tutorials that come with the app — you will be amazed, or at least your kids will be. If you haven’t seen how the Simpson’s used Character Animator, you should check it out with a YouTube search. It is pretty sweet. In terms of incoming updates, there will be faster and easier puppet creation, improved round trip workflow between Photoshop and Illustrator, and the ability to use grouped keyboard triggers.

Summing Up
In the end, the future is still looking up for the Adobe Creative Cloud video products, like Premiere Pro and After Effects. If there is one thing to jump out of your skin over in the forthcoming update it is Team Projects. If Team Projects works and works well, the NLE tide may be shifting. That is a big if though because there have been some issues with previous updates — like media management within Premiere Pro — that have yet to be completely ironed out.

Like I said, if Adobe does this right it will be game-changing for them in the shared editing environment. In my opinion, Adobe is beginning to get its head above water in the video department. I would love to see these latest updates come in guns blazing and working. From the demo I saw it looks promising, but really there is only one way to find out: hands-on experience.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Earlier this year, Brady was nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Experiencing autism in VR via Happy Finish

While people with autism might “appear” to be like the rest of us, the way they experience the world is decidedly different. Imagine sensory overload times 10. In an effort to help the public understand autism, the UK’s National Autistic Society and agency Don’t Panic have launched a campaign called “Too Much Information” (#autismTMI) that is set to challenge myths, misconceptions and stereotypes relating to this neurobiological disorder.

In order to help tell that story, the NAS called on London’s Happy Finish to help create a 360-degree VR film that puts viewers into the shoes of a child with autism during a visit to the store. A 2D film had previously been developed based on the experience of a 10-year-old boy autistic boy named Alexander. Happy Finish provided visual effects for that version, which, since March of last year, has over 54 million views and over 850K shares. The new 360-degree VR experience takes the viewer into Alexander’s world in a more immersive way.

After interviewing several autistic adults as part of the research, Happy Finish worked on this idea that aims to trigger viewer’s empathy and understanding. Working with Don’t Panic and The National Autistic Society, they share Alexander’s experience in an immersive and moving way.

The piece was shot by DP Michael Hornbogen using a six-camera GoPro array in 3D printed housing. For stitching, Happy Finish called on Autopano by Kolor, The Foundry’s Nuke and Adobe After Effects. Editing was in Adobe Premiere. Color grading was via Blackmagic’s Resolve.

“It was a long process of compositing using various tools,” explains Jamie Mossahebi, director of the VR shooting at Happy Finish. “We created 18 versions and amended and tweaked based on initial feedback from autistic adults.”

He says that most of the studio’s VR experiences aim to create something comfortable and pleasant, but this one needed to be uncomfortable while remaining engaging. “The main challenge was to be as realistic as possible, for that, we focused a lot on the sound design as well as a testing a wide variety of visual effects, selecting the key ones that contributed to making it as immersive and as close to a sensory overload as possible,” explains Mossahebi, who directed the VR film.

“This is Don’t Panic’s first experience of creating a virtual reality campaign,” says Richard Beer, creative director of Don’t Panic. “The process of creating a virtual reality film has a whole different set of rules: it’s about creating a place for people to visit and a person for them to become, rather than simply telling a story. This interactivity of virtual reality gives it a unique sense of “presence” — it has the power to take us somewhere else in time and space, to help us feel, just for a while, what it’s like to be someone else – which is why it was the perfect tool to communicate exactly what a sensory overload feels like for someone with autism for the NAS.”

Sponsored by Tangle Teaser and Intu, the film will tour shopping centers around the UK and will also be available through Autism TMI Virtual Reality Experience view app.

Learning about LTO and Premiere workflows

By Chelsea Taylor

In late March, I attended a workflow event by Facilis Technology and StorageDNA in New York City. I didn’t know much going in other than it would be about collaborative workflows and shared storage for Adobe Premiere. While this event was likely set up to sell some systems, I did end up learning some worthwhile information about archiving and backup.

Full disclosure: going into this event I knew very little about LTO archiving. Previously I had been archiving all of my projects by throwing a hard drive into the corner of my edit. Well, not really but close! It seems that a lot of companies out there don’t put too much importance on archiving until after it becomes a problem (“All of our edits are crashing and we don’t know why!”).

At my last editing job where we edited short form content on Avid, our media manager would consolidate projects in Avid, create a FileMaker database that cataloged footage, manually add metadata, then put the archived files onto different G-Tech G-RAID drives (which of course could die after a couple of years). In short, it wasn’t the best way to archive and backup media, especially when an editor wanted to find something. They would have to walk over to the computer where the database was, figure out how to use the UI, search for the project (If it had the right metadata), find the physical drive, plug the drive into their machine, go through different files/folders until they found what they were looking for, copy the however many large files to the SAN, and then start working. Suffice to say I had a lot to learn about archiving and was very excited to attend this event.

I arrived at the event about 30 minutes early, which turned out to be a good thing because I was immediately greeted by some of the experts and presenters from Facilis and StorageDNA. Not fully realizing who I was talking to, I started asking tons of questions about their products. What does StorageDNA do? How can it integrate with Premiere? Why is LTO tape archiving better? Who adds the metadata? How fast can you access the backup? And before I knew it, I was in a heated discussion with Jeff Krueger, worldwide VP of sales at StorageDNA, and Doug Hynes, director of product and solution marketing at StorageDNA, about their products and the importance of archiving. Fully inspired to archive and with tons more questions, our conversation got cut short as the event was about to begin.

While the Facilis offerings look cool (I want all of them!), I wasn’t at the event to buy things — I wanted to hear about the workflow and integration with Adobe Premiere (which is a language I better understand). As someone who would be actually using these products and not in charge of buying them, I didn’t care about the tech specs or new features. “Secure sharing with permissions. Low-level media management. Block-level virtualized storage pools.” It was hardware spec after hardware spec (which you can check out on their website). As the presenter spoke of the new features and specifications of their new models, I just kept thinking about what Jeff Krueger had told me right before the event about archiving, which I will share with you here.

StorageDNA presented on a product line called DNAevolution, which is an archive engine built on LTO tapes. Each model provides different levels of LTO automation, LTO drives and server hardware. As an editor, I was more concerned with the workflow.

The StorageDNA Workflow for Premiere
1. Card contents are ingested onto the SAN.
2. The high-res files are written to LTO/ LTFS through DNAevolution and become permanent camera master files.
3. Low-res proxies are created and ingested onto the SAN for use in editorial. DNAevolution is pointed to the proxies, indexes them and links to the high-res clips on LTO.
4. Once the files are written to and verified on LTO, you can delete the high-res files from your spinning disk storage.
5. The editor works with the low-res proxies in Premiere Pro.
6. When complete, the editor exports an EDL that DNAevolution parses and locates the high-res files on LTO from the database.
7. DNAevolution restores high-res files to the finishing station or SAN storage.
8. The editor can relink the media and distribute in high-res/4K.

The StorageDNA Archive Workflow
1. In the DNAevolution Archive Console, select your Premiere Pro project file.
2. DNAevolution scans the project, and generates a list of files to be archived. It then writes all associated media files and the project itself to LTO tape(s).
3. Once the files are written to and verified on LTO, you can delete the high-res files from your spinning disk storage.

Why I Was impressed
All of your media is immediately backed up, ensuring it is in a safe place and not taking up your local or shared storage. You can delete the high-res files from your SAN storage immediately and work with proxies, onlining later down the line. The problem I’ve had with SAN storage is that it fills up very quickly with large files, eventually slowing down your systems and leading to playback problems. Why have all of your RAW unused media just sitting there eating up your valuable space when you can free it up immediately?

DNAevolution works easily with Adobe’s Premiere, Prelude and Media Encoder. It uses the Adobe CC toolset to automate the process of creating LTO/LTFS camera masters while creating previews via Media Encoder.

DNAevolution archives all media from your Premiere projects with a single click and notifies you if files are missing. It also checks your files for existing camera and clip metadata. Meaning if you add all of that in at the start it will make archiving much easier.

You have direct access to files on LTO tape, enabling third-party applications access to media directly on LTO, such as transcoding, partial restore and playout. DNAevolution’s Archive Asset Management toolset allows you to browse/search archived content and provides proxy playback. It even has a drag and drop functionality with Premiere where you literally drop a file straight from the archive into your Premiere timeline, with little rendering, and start editing.

I have never tested an LTO archive workflow and am curious what other people’s experiences have been like. Feel free to leave your thoughts on LTO vs. Cloud vs. Disk in the comments below.

Chelsea Taylor is a freelance editor who has worked on a wide range of content: from viral videos and sizzles to web series and short films. She also works as an assistant editor on feature films and documentaries. Check out her site a at StillRenderingProductions.com.

Automatic Duck’s Wes Plate talks about building bridges

By Randi Altman

If you’ve worked in post production during the past 14 years, there is a very good chance you know Automatic Duck and its president, Wes Plate. Over their time in business, Wes and his father, Harry, have created a number of software tools designed to make different programs and formats work together… the ultimate facilitators.

In 2011, Automatic Duck licensed its technology to Adobe, and Wes joined them as head of its Prelude team. While Adobe had acquired the technological assets of Automatic Duck, it did not acquire Automatic Duck, the company.

Fast forward a few years and the Plates and Automatic Duck are back with new products. As you might expect, Automatic Duck Ximport AE and Automatic Duck Media Copy 4.0 are designed to make post pros’ lives easier. Ximport AE transfers entire timelines, including cuts, third-party effects and transitions from Final Cut Pro X to Adobe After Effects. Media Copy 4.0 uses AAF and XML to simplify copying and moving media files from any Final Cut Pro 7, Final Cut Pro X or Avid Media Composer/Symphony project. Both products are being sold via Red Giant.

XimportAE-After Effects copy

XimportAE — After Effects

On the heels of this news, we reached out to Wes Plate, who, after working for Adobe for two years, is back at the family business.

When you joined Adobe, they bought your technology. How did that work with this AE plug-in?
We do have the ability to use some of what Adobe acquired from us, but we are also limited in some ways. We told them we had an idea for a product — translating Final Cut Pro X into After Effects, and they said, “Okay.” We used some of the After Effects code from the past, but we also had to add a whole bunch of new code for Final Cut Pro X. We are still really good working partners with Adobe and we could not have made this product without rewriting everything from scratch without their help or without their permission.

Why now, and why this?
After leaving Adobe at the start of 2014, I was trying to figure what was going to be next. At that same time, I had been hearing a lot of people on social media talking about how Final Cut Pro X had improved and become a great NLE, so I gave it a try. I really enjoy using FCP X as an editing tool, but while I am editing I want to take clips or a section of timeline and bring it in to After Effects… it’s how I work.

Harry and I were looking for a project, Final Cut Pro X is growing in the marketplace, and I need to get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects if I am going to use it as an NLE. All of that together meant Automatic Duck should build a bridge from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects.

XimportAE — Final Cut Pro X copy

XimportAE-Final Cut Pro X

Before your plug-in, how were people getting from FCP X to After Effects?
When I started down this path, there was a free utility on the market that would translate a Final Cut Pro X XML into a file format called JavaScript; After Effects would then run that JavaScript to create a comp. I tried it but I couldn’t make it work, which gave us even more reason to jump into this. That particular tool is now in version two and available for purchase through the App Store, but we still feel like what we are creating makes much more sense. Another option is to use Intelligent Assistance’s XtoCC app to convert FCPX XML to FCP7 XML and then import that into After Effects. But that workflow is also not as complete as what Ximport AE can do.

Makes more sense how?
Our solution makes it super easy to get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects. To get from Final Cut Pro X to After Effects, the first step is to export the XML, then switch to After Effects and import our new product, Automatic Duck Ximport AE. You can change some settings or change some options, but essentially all you have to do now is open the XML file and our plugin brings it directly to After Effects.

Red Giant is selling your new products. Can you explain the relationship?
There is an enormous amount of work that goes into selling a product. What we enjoy the most is making the product, interacting with users and making sure their problems are solved, but dealing with credit cards and that type of thing is less interesting to us and takes our attention away from what we want to do.

Our friend Stu Maschwitz, who designed Magic Bullet, and also Peder Norrby from Trapcode, have been very happy with their relationship with Red Giant, which is essentially publishing their products and doing the sales, marketing and support. Another benefit for us using Red Giant‘s infrastructure for products and distribution is we are now able to offer trial versions of Ximport AE and also Media Copy, our media copying utility.

Media Copy

Media Copy

As we look toward future product development, we’ll be evaluating FCPX as an editing platform to invest in and spend considerable time developing solutions for. The great thing about our partnership with Red Giant is that it gives us access to their expertise and resources. I can foresee opportunities to partner up on products that, all by ourselves, we might not be able to execute or have what we need to make some workflows and solutions possible. I’m excited about what we’ll be able to do both with Red Giant and opportunities that we see coming forward from the FCPX landscape.

Can you talk about Automatic Duck Classic and how that came to be?
After joining Adobe, Automatic Duck retained some products that we were allowed to sell, but we just didn’t have the time to properly support them. So instead we made the products available for free on our website. When we started to prepare for the relaunch and updated our website the download links for the free stuff went away. We didn’t realize people still needed those tools, and I kept seeing posts on social media asking where the links went. We realized that there was still a need for people to get projects between FCP7 and Avid. The old products that we used to give away for free will be coming back on the website at no cost.

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For more details on the products click here.

Mocha now plug-in for NLEs, BCC 10 integrates Mocha 5

The big news from Boris FX/Imagineer at IBC this year was that the soon-to-be-released Mocha Pro planar tracking and roto masking technology will be available as a plug-in for Avid, Adobe and OFX. This brings all of the tools from Mocha Pro to these NLEs — no more workarounds needed. This Mocha Pro 5 plug-in, which will be available in a month, incorporates a new effects panel for integrated keying, grain, sharpening and skin smoothing as well as new Python scripting support and more.

“Avid editors have always asked us for the Mocha planar tracking tools on their timeline. Now with the Imagineer/Boris FX collaboration, we are bringing the full Mocha Pro to Avid,” explains Ross Shain, CMO at BorisFX/Imagineer. “Media Composer and Symphony users will be able to handle more complex effects and finishing tasks, without importing/exporting footage. Just drop the Mocha Pro plug-in on your clip and you immediately have access to the same powerful tracking, stabilization and object removal tools used in high-end feature film visual effects.”

The availability of this plugin coincides with the Mocha Pro 5 release.

In other company news, Boris FX’s upcoming Boris Continuum Complete (BCC) 10 will have Mocha planar tracking and masking embedded. This is inside every BCC 10 plug-in and can be used for isolating areas of the effect with Mocha masks. The first version to ship will be BCC 10 for Avid in a few weeks.

Besides integrating Mocha Pro 5, BCC 10 will also offer a new Beauty Studio skin-retouching filter, new 3D titling and animation tools, import of Maxon Cinema 4D models, new image restoration filters, new transitions and more host support.

‘The Stanford Prison Experiment’: director/editor Kyle Patrick Alvarez

By Randi Altman

College students in a 1971 social experiment at Stanford University tried something new, with horrifying results. For writer/director/editor Kyle Patrick Alvarez, changing roles has been a much more positive experience. His third and most recent film as director is The Stanford Prison Experiment, released nationwide in mid-July but screened at Sundance in January.

The movie, based on the book The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, by the professor who ran the experiment, shows how power can corrupt. This is the third film that Alvarez has helmed (2013’s C.O.G. and 2009’s Easier With Practice), but the first he didn’t write. The screenplay by Tim Talbott, says the director, was one of those well-regarded but un-produced scripts that was known around town.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Billy Crudup & Cast Photo by Jas Shelton

“I had known of the experiment, but not to the great detail and exacting qualities featured in the script,” explains Alvarez (@kylealvarez). “I thought it was fascinating, this challenge of being able to make a film that stayed true to the real events and still worked and functioned as a piece of cinema.”
Alvarez, who also edited The Stanford Prison Experiment, spoke to us about directing and cutting the film.

How did you transition from editing to directing?
When I first moved to LA, I was picking up editing jobs, but during that time I was also trying to get my first film off the ground. So there wasn’t necessarily a time period where I stopped being an editor.

When you’re directing, are you also wearing your editor hat? Does it influence the way you direct?
Yes, one hundred percent. I’m usually shooting 10 to 15 pages a day. I love getting coverage and love to have more options in the editing room — but many times that luxury doesn’t exist. In a lot of cases it’s thinking ahead and knowing I need certain pieces.

Really what it comes down to is being conservative and mindful of how much time we have to shoot. There was a particular day on this film where I turned to the script supervisor and said, “I’m working as an editor today more than a director because we just need to get these scenes in the can, and we have very little time to do it.”

Even if I don’t cut my films in the future, which is a likely possibility, I think there’s some part of me that’s always going to be thinking that way.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Michael Angarano & Tye Sheridan & Johnny Simmons & Ezra Miller & Chris Sheffield Photo by Jas Shelton (2)

So it’s essentially muscle memory?
Yes, I also think of writing when I’m a directing, because I wrote my first two films. Sometimes you have to say, “What part of this scene isn’t working? Is it the directing? Is it the editing? Is it the writing?” Then I try to gather what piece needs a little bit of work and figure out where that is.

It works the other way as well. I try to think about editing while I’m writing because I’m thinking, do I need that, do I need this piece, how are these scenes going to really fit together? I feel like that’s a large part of what I do.

What camera did you use?
The movie takes place in the ’70s, and we explored the possibility of using film, but it was not a financial option for us. I then chose the Red Dragon, for many reasons. Part of it is the post process, part of it is being able to cut on set and work with the raw footage. For a movie like this, where I knew we were going to have really tight timelines for shooting, I liked knowing that I would have a massive amount of data.

I wanted to shoot in 5.5K — I’ve always been happy with the latitude and how it works and the color correction. It’s something I’m really comfortable with. So after that decision was made it was just a question of lenses. We shot on some vintage Leitz lenses, and that ended up playing a big hand in the look of the film, maybe even more so than the camera.

What was the look you wanted from the film?
We didn’t want to re-create what a movie from the ’70s looked like. We didn’t want that weird Grindhouse thing where you’re breaking down the image for no reason or putting in colors that shouldn’t be there or doing camera moves that are unmotivated. For me, it was more about the feeling of it. It’s like looking at Alan J. Pakula’s films. We associate that with the ’70s a lot. All the President’s Men and The Parallax View, to me that’s the kind of feeling I wanted.

We ended up with a combination… a movie that felt like it was from the ’70s but using techniques that were a bit more contemporary. It was a balance — looking at each scene and seeing what felt the most right.

Talk to me about being on set. What was the workflow like?
We had a DIT, and we had a guy who I’m close with running dailies. He was ingesting stuff through an Atomos Ninja, and I would go and watch playback there really quickly. The DIT was really working a little more closely with the cinematographer Jas Shelton.

There was also an assistant editor logging the footage. I was able to look at stuff and try some brief assemblies on lunch breaks to see what was working and what wasn’t. We were on the same location for two weeks of the shoot, so there was time to go back. Not a lot of time, but enough that I felt like if there was an insert needed to help bridge moments together we could get it. For me the goal is to overlap the post-production mentality with the production mentality and the pre-production mentality. I find the best stuff comes from when you’re able to get those things to collide as much as possible.

Let’s dig into the post. When did you start editing and on what system?
I started right away, and I used Adobe’s Premiere Pro on an iMac. We wrapped in October and had to show the film to the Sundance programming committee, so that gave us about a three-week turnaround. It premiered at Sundance in January. There are 25 characters in the film and it was a challenging edit. Because I’m the director as well as the editor, usually the first cut is pretty close to the first edit, but I panicked because this came in at three hours. I had to lose an hour of movie. It was a totally different feeling.

Kyle Alvarez at Sundance picking up the Sloan Feature Film Prize. Photo: Calvin Knight.

Kyle Alvarez at Sundance this year picking up the Sloan Feature Film Prize for ‘Experiment.’ Photo: Calvin Knight.

What else was challenging about the cut?
Almost every scene had at least 12 people in it, and everyone had mics on them. We had an extraordinary amount of audio tracks. My assistant editor, Susan Kim, would manage those as I started rough edits of scenes. If you saw the timeline, it was absurd: every track had massive, massive amounts of audio. Obviously we didn’t want to hear all those in the final edit, so it was just about going through and narrowing down those lines. That played a big part in prepping the movie for post delivery too, which also moved incredibly quickly.

Why did you choose Premiere Pro for the edit?
I learned Final Cut in college and I cut my first film with it, but I hated the transcoding process you had to go through at that time. I was shooting digital, but had to wait to cut stuff! When preparing for my second film a couple of years later, I found Adobe Premiere. They were the first ones to offer native R3D editing. I tested it on my laptop, a standard consumer level laptop, and it worked. It was sort of a revelatory moment for me.

Can you talk about the creative process of editing?
We had scenes with a lot of people, so it was about narrowing in the story or narrowing the scenes into the fundamentals of what they were about… and who they were about. You try to chip away at what’s there and see what’s working. Because we had to cut fast, I used line breakdowns where it gets delivered to me in a timeline that has every line of dialogue from every take put next to each other.

For me you start with the best performance of each line. You put that together and sometimes it’s, “that line doesn’t work with that line, because even though those two are the best individual ones, they don’t work together in the right way.” Then you go through and start swapping some out and you get the pieces, the selections of the dialogue, right. Then you go through and start to shape it and put those pieces together and figure out when you’re going to cut other people — when they’re not talking — and at a certain point it boils down to instincts. It has to feel right.

THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT Billy Crudup Photo by Jas Shelton

Can you point to an example?
There is a moment at the end of the film where a character walks ahead of the camera and goes totally out of focus for a good three or four seconds. As soon as I saw it I thought that really fits that moment. If you’re following some of the rules, that would have ended up in the trash bin, but for some reason as I was cutting, it captured something real. You don’t want to just follow those line breakdowns because you might miss that. It’s making sure no diamonds get lost in the rough of it all.

Any other moments like that?
Not exactly like that, but with this film — thanks specifically to the speed and power of the Adobe system — I did a lot more cropping and zooming in the edit. It wasn’t because we didn’t get what we wanted but because it takes 10 minutes to swap a prime lens out for a zoom. We didn’t have 10 minutes on this movie. If we had primes and I wanted zoom, I knew I was going to have to build it in post.

Thanks to shooting in 5.5K I was able to turn two shots into singles and insert moments when I needed to. I was able to extend zooms so there’s a couple of times where it’s pushing in on or zooming in on a character and the character’s emotions still went on a little bit longer. I was able to just keep that zoom going all the way through. I was doing a lot of that with no render times, and that was massive to me on this movie.

What about the color grade? Who did it and where?
We colored at Light Iron in Hollywood with Ian Vertovec using Quantel Pablo. We never transcoded — we cut straight from our R3Ds and those went straight to Light Iron and they colored straight from that.

What about the audio post?
We used Formosa Group’s Martyn Zub and Paul Carden, both of whom worked with me when I was doing C.O.G. and when they were at Wildfire. They really did an amazing amount of work in a very short period of time. My previous films were these very naturalistic dramadies. This is a movie where the sound was changing, and there’s this crowd and scenes with a lot of people creating chatter. It was a much heavier creative sound endeavor than I was used to. It was definitely an undertaking, but one they tackled head on.

Photos by Jas Shelton

Releases & Updates: We are in this ecosystem together

By Sean Mullen

Just a few weeks ago, Adobe released a major new upgrade to its Creative Cloud services. While these updates are welcomed by the community with excitement, there’s also a period of — for lack of better words — stressful chaos as the third-party software and plug-in developers scramble to ensure their products will be compatible.

When Adobe speaks, the community listens. When Adobe does something new, they listen even closer, because when they do something new, it’s usually some amazing a leap forward that only makes our lives easier and our work look that much better. The latest updates to Adobe Creative Cloud are no different.

All of us at Rampant Design are big fans, and Adobe CC is big part of what we do every day. It’s no mistake that our Style Effects complement Adobe CC so well. But we also understand — being part of this VFX community — that while change is great, those changes have impact on the software and plug-in developers who make their living enhancing the Adobe CC workflow. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

Adobe After Effects CC

Adobe After Effects CC

The Updates
Here are a couple of top-of-mind things that get us excited. We zeroed in on some of the applications and features within CC that impact us most on a daily basis, and those are the features in Premiere Pro and After Effects.

The Iridas acquisition of a couple of years ago is really showing its value, especially with this update. The Lumetri Color panel is amazing!  You’re getting seriously powerful color tools built right into Premiere Pro. That’s pretty significant. Morph Cut is part voodoo and part rocket science — a very cool tool that smoothes out jump cuts and pauses. There are some notable changes to After Effects too. While the AE Comp Scrollbar is now missing, the uninterrupted preview is a fantastic addition. The new Face Tracker is impressive as well.

The Adobe Ecosystem: Plug-Ins
There is most definitely an ecosystem around Adobe, an entire sub-segment of the post production software industry who make tools to enhance the workflow — the plug-in developers.

Adobe Premiere

Adobe Premiere

In any third-party plug-in environment, you have the host developer (in this case Adobe) and the third party plug-in developer  companies like Red Giant, Video Copilot, Genarts, BorisFX, to name a few. While the host developers keep the third parties informed as much as possible, their main focus is on rolling out a solid product release.

So,inevitably, some things slip through the cracks — mainly their ability to interact with the plug-in developers in a timely way — at least from the plug-in developers perspective. As a result, you’ll notice a slew of newsletters and social network posts from these third parties claiming that their products currently do or do not work with the latest release.

I’m sure the weeks up to and following a major release can be a hectic time for developers. Plug-in engineering isn’t free, so there is a small window within that the current build of any given third-party plug-in will work. Major releases come out every year and dot releases happen quite often.

At Rampant, our situation is a little different. We make tools that enhance the CC workflow, but also the plug-ins themselves. Style Effects aren’t alternative to plug-ins, they are complementary. If we were bakers or chefs, Style Effects would be the spices or finishing touches. If we were carpenters, Style Effects would be the varnish. Style Effects work hand in hand with your favorite plug-ins.

Style Effects are QuickTime-based, so as long as you have QuickTime, these effects will work with any Adobe update. In our reality, artists and editors want instant gratification. Very few of us get the time to play. Most producers want to see something yesterday, and this is why the plug-in and Style Effects ecosystems are so critical. Major new host releases will always be challenging — and stressful — but the end product of all of us working together is what helps all of us create amazing content. We’re proud to be a part of it!

Sean Mullen is the founder/president of Rampant Design Tools. He is an award-winning VFX artist, but he’s also the creator of Rampant Style Effects, UHD visual effects and designs. Style Effects are packaged as QuickTime files, enabling artists to drag and drop them to any editing platform.

 

 

VFX bring wheatpaste poster to life in ‘Paper Heart’ music video

Each January, The Silver Sound Showdown music video festival and battle of the bands takes place at Brooklyn Bowl. It pairs the winning director and winning band together to make a music video with Silver Sound Studios in New York City. It was here that Paper Heart, the music video directed by Nick Snyder, produced by Silver Sound and featuring the band Blood and Glass, was born.

Paper Heart, is one of the most ambitious Showdown collaborations to date,” according to festival director and producer Cory Choy, features Blood and Glass lead singer Lisa Moore as a wheatpaste poster on walls across Brooklyn. It was shot on a Red Scarlet camera and features effects created in Adobe’s After Effects and Photoshop. It was edited on Adobe Premiere Pro.

Why the wheatpaste poster look? LA-based Snyder (@nickwsnyder) works in the arts district of downtown, where he sees inspiration in everything. He also liked the idea that the nature and lifespan of the wheatpaste poster seemed to play nicely into the “themes of isolation and fragility found in the song.”

Director Nick Snyder, right.

Director Nick Snyder, right, in front of monitor.

Snyder’s Showdown-winning video Lost Boy Found also combined the techniques of live performance, compositing and animation — silhouettes of actors were composited into a fantasy shadow puppet world — so this was a realm he was comfortable in.

The Production
After several months of prep, Snyder and the band made their way to New York City for the two-day shoot. The first day was dedicated to shooting plates. Locations around Brooklyn had been scouted by Silver Sound, Google street-viewed by Snyder prior to arrival and then scouted in person. So by the time production began, specific moments had been planned to take place in a handful of selected locations. The remaining moments were narrowed down to areas where the filmmakers anticipated chance discoveries. Snyder, DP J. Andrés Cardona and a skeleton crew set out onto the streets of New York to shoot with their Red Scarlet.

Going Green
The second day was shot at Parlay Studios in Jersey City and dedicated exclusively to greenscreen shots. During a brief break in between days, Snyder analyzed the plates. While he shot listed and storyboarded, he also left room for improvisation and collaboration.

greenscreen RED Scarlet

To aid lead singer Lisa Moore in her characterization, extra attention was given to wardrobe, makeup and props. “For example, it was decided beforehand that her prop cane would become a matchstick and that after using it, the matchstick would shrivel and blacken,” explains Snyder. “The art director constructed a practical burnt matchstick prop, but rather than swapping it out during Lisa’s performance, the prop was shot suspended in front of the greenscreen. Then, using an LED light on Lisa’s un-burnt cane, I tracked the movement of the matchstick in After Effects. I then replaced it with the burnt matchstick seen at the end of the video.”

The same technique was used for the origami birds that interact with Moore throughout the video. Practical birds were made, shot against the greenscreen and keyed out in post. The intention was that they could be keyframed in After Effects, but their natural movement would allow for a slightly more organic feel. It was a good time saver. “Green apple boxes, chroma key gloves and even crew members wrapped in green blankets were used to achieve the effect of tactile contact within the video,” explains Snyder. “The performance moments were shot from start to finish in various sizes, and shooting in 4K allowed for any Lisa/plate size relationship miscalculations,” explains Snyder.

The Post
The next step was assembly. This involved mapping Moore to the building surface plates. Premiere Pro was used to assemble performance shots in raw R3D and narrow down her best takes. For performance takes, a six-panel export was made to quickly compare her gestures from the narrowed down shots. From there, a preliminary pass was made on pairing Moore with the plates by adding the chroma key effect in Premiere. “This simplified version of After Effects Keylight allowed us to see what was working without having to check all the shots in the much more sluggish After Effects video playback,” says Snyder. “Additionally, once the assembled shots were ready for AE, the greenscreen clips with this chroma key effect would stay in the metadata of the shot.” Another time saver, he says, was that once the Moore/plate relationships were locked and a cut was close to locked, the compositing could begin.

bird person birds

To save space and make for faster save times, Snyder chose to create separate After Effects files for each shot. The first step was to finalize the look for “Wheatpaste Lisa.” After some trial and error, a look was established and a master file was created that could be imported into each After Effects file, but the process for creating the look wasn’t as easy as copying and pasting a LUT. In some cases, upwards of 20 pre-comps were used.

According to Snyder, the basic process went like this. “The greenscreen shot was keyed out using Keylight, adjusting for spill and greenscreen inconsistencies. Luckily, the DP did an excellent job at lighting Lisa, so this was a breeze. If there was an issue, a simple matte choker was used. Then, this was precomped and a minimal texture was brought in to dirty it up a bit. The overlay blending mode was often used as well as an image mask. It was precomped again; an off-white stroke was added using a layer style stroke. This effect was used to create the white-edge poster look. The stroke size and precomp level varied from shot to shot, depending on the size of shot Lisa was in and also the texture of the plate onto which she was to be composited. At this point the look started to emerge a bit, but a few steps remained in order to completely bring Wheatpaste Lisa to life.”

For Paper Heart, a combination of Adobe CC’s Glass and Texturize were used to give Moore a convincing paper texture as well as authentic surface imperfections, explains Snyder. Most often, two bump maps were used — one for generic surface texture and lighting and a second to pick up the surface of the wall behind her. For the second, a high contrast grayscale image was created in Photoshop to bring out the important parts. Using Dynamic Link, Snyder was able to paint over parts of the bump map that were less important, save and view the results in After Effects.

one two

Lastly, two layers needed to be created to mimic ink on paper and human error. This would also come into play later in the video as the iterations of Wheatpaste Lisa start to erode away. “For this effect, the comp had to be duplicated. Unfortunately, After Effects comp duplication only duplicates the top comp,” explains Snyder. “So in order to duplicate all of the nested comps, a purchased script called True Comp Duplicator had to be used. The newly duplicated comp was then brought into the original comp and placed below. Using the Fill effect, this comp was colored off-white. Then, to add the finishing touches, some final grungifying had to be done to the top layer. Using Photoshop, 5K resolution brush strokes and alpha channel grunge effects were created on multiple layers. Once imported into AE, these could be used in the top Lisa comp. Using the Silhouette Alpha blending mode, the grungy paintbrush strokes subtracted bits of Wheatpaste Lisa, creating imperfections and rough edges that exposed the off-white layer beneath it.

“Finally, back in the master comp with the two Lisa layers, those were precomped once more. At this point, the look was more or less complete,” he continues. “But from shot to shot, additional work was sometimes required to successfully composite Lisa onto the plates.” Some additional tools used were Roughen Edges, another Matte Choker and occasionally another round of Silhouette Alpha grungy paintbrush strokes.

For lighting, Snyder used either the 4-Color Gradient or Gradient Ramp on an Adjustment Layer or on a Solid set to the Hard Light Blending Mode. Opacity was usually in the 10-20 percent range.

umbrella 5 flame

During the process, Snyder and Silver Sound discovered that Wheatpaste Lisa’s movement looked best at 12fps. “We wanted to underscore the fact that Wheatpaste Lisa was an actual wheatpaste entity existing in her own little universe, not just a video projection,” explains Silver Sound’s Choy. “So the choppier feel of 12fps was used to make Lisa’s motions a little less fluid, a little more animation-y and other worldly feeling.” For this effect, the Posterize Time effect was used.

Throughout the compositing process, Snyder created H.264 proxy files from the transcoded R3D footage. This was especially helpful with the origami birds. To save space, the birds were rendered out on their own at a much smaller file size and then re-imported.

The Death of Wheatpaste Lisa
Finally, Wheatpaste Lisa had to die. To achieve the effect of wheatpaste poster weathering, both layers of Wheatpaste Lisa had to erode. “Back inside the top layer — the double layer Lisa comp — individual brush strokes and grunge effects were animated with Silhouette Alpha as their blending mode,” describes Snyder. “Once the weathering looked satisfactory, these animated layers were copied, pasted into the bottom layer Lisa comp and adjusted in movement and timing. This allowed for the top layer to erode just before the bottom layer, pushing the compositing one step closer toward realism. Occasionally, one final matte choker and/or an animated mask was used on the final precomp to eliminate any stray particles or to insure that she dissolved away completely.

The crew

The crew.

Once complete, the shots were rendered at 4K ProRes 4444. The final shots were delivered to Silver Sound colorist Vlad Kucherov with Moore separated from the building surface plates. Using DaVinci Resolve, Kucherov worked with Snyder to achieve a satisfactory look that worked well for the video concept while also helping sell the compositing realism. Having the layers separated gave Silver Sound more control during this process by being able to adjust the levels independently. The goal was to find a look that played to the feel of the song, but also gave the video a confident personalized look of its own.

“In the end, Paper Heart is the result of careful planning, post experimentation, lots of hair pulling and creating a concept that exists within a strict set of limitations,” concludes Snyder.

NAB 2015: Adobe, Foundry and revisiting the ‘big picture’

By Adrian Winter

Admittedly, it’s taken me a while to put this entry together, as the days between when NAB wrapped up until now have been very busy. How busy? So busy that I have yet to catch up with Daredevil. THAT’S how busy. I am not starting Episode 10, despite the fact that Episode 9 ended on a really crazy note and I can’t stop thinking about it. Instead, I am taking this time to run through my last day at NAB.

While the exhibit floor on toward the end of the show was significantly less crowded than earlier in the week, there were still some gems to be found that are worth reporting on.

Adobe
Wednesday morning found me at the Adobe booth, taking in demos of the new releases of CC Continue reading

NAB: Exploring collaborative workflows on the exhibit floor

By Adrian Winter

It was back to the showroom floor for me today as I checked in on a number of exhibitors with an eye toward collaborative workflows.

My first stop was the Adobe booth to take in a demonstration of Adobe Anywhere — Adobe’s collaborative platform for Premiere, Prelude and After Effects.

The workflow is built around a number of users, working either in house or remotely, that can access and work with the same footage all stored in one place called a Collaboration Hub. This Continue reading

Looking at the big picture

By Adrian Winter

NAB is a great place to try something new, as it draws in vendors and experts from every aspect of production and post production. My approach in attending the conference this year has been take in a wide variety of sessions — extending beyond the standard VFX and animation techniques that speak to my own day-to-day experience — in order to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by other sides of this business: directors, DPs, editors, colorists and other key artists in the creative process. Continue reading

Turner optimizes Premiere Pro CC workflow via Scale Logic, FlavourSys

Scale Logic has provided workflow migration and integrated project management expertise to optimize the Adobe Premiere Pro CC workflow at Turner Studios. Scale Logic worked with FlavourSys to create an efficient project-management workflow based on FlavourSys’ Strawberry production asset management system. The workflow is compatible with Turner Studios’ centralized storage system and also drives better workflow efficiencies around corporate adoption of Adobe Creative Cloud.

With the installation and integration of Strawberry at Atlanta’s Turner Studios, Scale Logic has delivered two separate but related workflow benefits for the company’s post operations: First, Strawberry enables a phased-in, managed-migration platform for Turner Studios, supporting management’s goal to transition the post editing workflow from Avid to Adobe. Second, Strawberry provides additional project management benefits and collaboration tools that, in aggregate, equate to a highly optimized and cost-effective Adobe Premiere Pro-based workflow that can be scaled out on a facility wide basis.

The Strawberry collaborative workflow helps the post editing team at Turner Studios by leveraging features such as the ability to handle Adobe cache files across the SAN; and instant project creation, sharing, and discovery across all storage tiers, including online, near-line and archive.

Adobe CC updated: color grading inside of Premiere, more

Adobe will showcase advances to its complete line-up of video technologies and services at the 2015 NAB Show. NAB will mark the first public preview of major updates to Adobe Creative Cloud video tools, including the new Lumetri color panel (which is built on tech from SpeedGrade and Lightroom) in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, allowing for instant color corrections; Morph Cut, which easily removes unwanted pauses and jump cuts for a more polished edit sequence; and new Adobe Character Animator capabilities for Adobe After Effects CC that bring two-dimensional characters to life.

Adobe Character Animator

In addition, the company is previewing Project “Candy,” a mobile CC Capture app, which is the latest addition to its set of Creative Cloud-enabled mobile apps. The app is connected to a user’s Creative Cloud profile so that the user can capture production-quality lighting schemes using a smartphone camera and then apply them to video footage in Premiere Pro CC.

Project Candy

Project Candy

Adobe is also announcing enhancements to Adobe Primetime, including innovations in video delivery, monetization, and personalization to enable new OTT business models for content owners, programmers, and pay-TV providers. The company will also preview a new configuration for Adobe Anywhere, a collaborative workflow platform that enables distributed teams using products such as Premiere Pro CC and Adobe Prelude CC to work together.

Keep an eye on this space for upcoming reviews and more detailed coverage.

Blog: My three goals for NAB 2015

This VFX supervisor shares his NAB game plan.

By Adrian Winter

It has been about four or five years since I was at an NAB Show, so I am very much looking forward to this year’s trip. In the past, my plan has been to fly out for just a day or two, walk the floor and then take a redeye home. This year I will be there for almost the entire week, and have plans to take in as many demos and seminars as I manage to squeeze in.

I have three areas of focus for the convention:

The Big players
Adobe, Autodesk, The Foundry and FilmLight always have a big presence at NAB, and I’ll be checking in with them to see what they have in the pipeline. I also plan to swing by a few of my other favorite exhibitor booths to see if I come across any gems. Continue reading

Why resolution independence is an illusion

By The Unknown Artist

All professional editorial systems now advertise “resolution independence,” and in some cases “frame-rate independence.” Avid was the last major player to the party around Christmas of 2014, cautiously launching resolution independence through its AMA.

Resolution independence really doesn’t mean much. It’s simply a little bit of code that automatically resizes all your source material to fit the frame size you’re working in. Frame-rate independence is a much bigger issue, however, because of what it means and what each
system does to the material to make it happen.

Continue reading

Filmmaker HaZ Dulull gets in ‘Sync’ with new short film

By Randi Altman

Writer/director/VFX supervisor Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull, whose sci-fi short Project Kronos is currently being adapted into a feature film, recently completed another short, Sync. Dulull says this proof-of-concept piece is part of a package used when developing feature film and TV properties.

Sync’s story is that every 15 seconds, a computer, network or mobile device is hacked by cyber-terrorists. To combat this problem, the fictional Syntek Industries has manufactured data couriers designed from advanced machine robotics. These couriers are known as Syncs, who are programmed to securely deliver data packages without interruption.

This busy London-based pro, who started out in visual effects working on films such as the Continue reading

Review: Yanobox Nodes 2

By Brady Betzel

I realize, as most editors do, that to grow means to be constantly learning. Not a day goes by where I am not on the Web looking for the latest and greatest tools and tutorials to expand my creative toolbox.

When scouring Twitter one day I found Eran Stern’s (@sternfx) demo of Yanobox Nodes 2 from FX Factory (@fxfactory) which he used to create a promo for the After Effects World Conference. While the project required an advanced level of After Effects skill and finesse, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been, and Nodes 2 was vital in creating such a spectacular spot.

Here is a link to his breakdown: http://www.sternfx.com/tutorials/140. There are many uses for Nodes 2, and motion graphics creator Jayse Hansen has created some stunning HUD Continue reading

Cool Stuff: Co-Pilot’s Andrew Kramer just might inspire you

While many Adobe After Effects users are eagerly awaiting the November release of Video CoPilot’s Element 3Dv2, creator Andrew Kramer gave a heartfelt keynote speech at last week’s Adobe After Effects World conference in Seattle.

Kramer talks about time management and real priorities, like family, the art of concise tutorials, life and video games. You will laugh, you will learn, you will relate… you will like him.

Check it out… you might just get inspired.

 

 

IBC: Updates to Adobe’s CC coming soon

At the IBC show in Amsterdam, Adobe will be showing soon-to-be-released updates to its Adobe Creative Cloud video desktop apps and Adobe Anywhere for video. These new capabilities build on the company’s integration across video workflows, enabling video pros to create, collaborate and deliver high-quality productions across multiple screens.

Key updates include new media and project management tools in Adobe Premiere Pro CC; a refreshed user-interface across all Adobe video desktop apps; and more streamlined production workflows empowering video professionals to edit more efficiently.

Important new updates will also be added to Adobe Anywhere, which enables large virtual teams of talent to collaborate and efficiently shoot, log, edit, share and finish video productions together.

Adobe also announced new capabilities to Adobe Primetime, a TV delivery and monetization platform for programmers and pay-TV service providers. Adobe is previewing these major updates at IBC 2014, Europe’s largest professional broadcast show held in Amsterdam.  www.adobe.com/go/video.

Details on the updates:
– Support for hardware and standards is accelerated via Adobe Creative Cloud.  Key updates extend native file support, with the addition of AJA RAW. Performance enhancements include accelerated Masking & Tracking and new GPU-optimized playback for better performance when viewing extremely high-res 4K and UltraHD footage from Phantom Cine, Canon RAW and Red R3D files.

– New media and project management features, including Consolidate and Transcode; Search Bins; and Multi-project workflows offer more ease and flexibility, at the project level, so Premiere Pro CC users can complete tasks more efficiently. Adobe Media Encoder now includes Destination publishing with preset options so users can render, deliver and share projects to multiple locations such as FTP sites and their Creative Cloud folder, automating the delivery process. Additionally, Extended Match Source support now includes added support for the QuickTime and DNxHD formats, simplifying the workflow for users who are transcoding or rendering content.

– Streamlined workflows and ongoing refinements make everyday tasks easier and faster inside Adobe CC video apps, including Timeline Views in Adobe Premiere Pro CC; Curve adjustments and Look Hover previews in Adobe SpeedGrade CC; and Rough Cut Dissolves and keyboard shortcuts for tagging in Adobe Prelude CC.

Adobe Anywhere, a workflow platform that allows users of Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC to work together using centralized media and assets across standard networks, will also be updated.

“The new features in Adobe Premiere Pro CC are amazingly beneficial to my feature film editing workflow,” says feature film editor Vashi Nedomanksy, who cut Sharknado 2 recently. “The ability to open multiple projects all at once without importing assets allows for effortless collaboration in multiple editor projects, while Search Bins add a brand-new layer of organization and custom specificity that help me prioritize my assets. I also love how the latest release unleashes more GPU power so I can dominate any camera codec from 4K to RAW and beyond, natively and in realtime.”

Adobe Anywhere complements Creative Cloud applications and enables collaboration for large organizations working with video, including broadcasters, schools and government agencies. Enhanced support for Adobe After Effects CC enables visual and motion graphic artists to collaborate more effectively so they can spend more time working creatively and less time searching for missing footage and collecting files. Additionally, new options in the Adobe Anywhere app for iPad are added, so users can scrub and review video footage faster.

 

Review: Templater via aescripts + aeplugins

By Brady Betzel

When I first arrived at college 10 years ago, I was all set to be a computer science major. Once I started to program using arrays, I realized quickly that I couldn’t do ones and zeros for the rest of my life. I needed to use my technical skills in harmony with whatever creative skills I thought (and still think) I have.

Eventually, I began to dive into the deep end of web programming and Adobe After Effects expressions to show off and complement my editing and motion graphics work. Luckily for me I remembered just a few if/then and else/if statements from my Java classes.

Lately I’ve been visiting www.aescripts.com daily in my search for interesting and topical post production-related nerdiness. aescripts.com is a site dedicated to After Effects scripts and Continue reading

Work boots get CG reboot thanks to Sullivan Branding

By Claudia Kienzle

With its Rocky Elements work boots about to hit the market, Ohio-based Rocky Outdoor Gear wanted a very visually dynamic product video to demonstrate the many intricacies and features of their new boot collection.

The key distinction is that the Rocky Elements product line is comprised of four trade-specific work boots designed for the unique rigors of working with wood, block, steel or dirt.

Rocky’s goal was to produce a cost-effective cinematic sales video that would dramatically convey how the design and craftsmanship of the four different boot styles benefit workers in those occupational environments.

Looking for ideas, they approached Sullivan Branding — a full-service advertising, marketing Continue reading

Review: MovieType for Element 3D

By Brady Betzel

For the past year, part of my morning “post production news gathering ritual” has been visiting AOTG, postPerspective and motion graphic designer John Dickinson’s Motionworks. Not long ago I saw that Dickinson (@Motionworks) had released a new set of presets and tools to be used with VideoCoPilot’s Element 3D inside of Adobe After Effects. It’s called MovieType for Element 3D.

I love Element 3D, so the idea of having more presets and tools to use made me happy. It has the ability to use near-realtime rendering to create stunning 3D objects like extruded text in seconds and without the need to jump into Cinema 4D. It’s a huge time saver for me when editing, especially when a client wants a “movie-type” title treatment but doesn’t have the time or money to outsource to a full motion graphics team.

Continue reading

Review: Adobe Creative Cloud 2014

By Brady Betzel

When I got the call to review the latest release of Adobe Creative Cloud for postPerspective, I almost jumped out of my skin with excitement. I am a big fan of Adobe tools in addition to how they handle their social media and customer outreach. You can submit a feature request and it seems like Adobe addresses it instantly.

About a year ago I asked another company for features such as higher than 1920×1080 projects and there still is no answer. On Twitter you can see @AdobeAE or @AdobePremiere answer technical, support, or even feature request questions. Long story short, they really seem to care about their products and the people who use them.

For this review I’m focusing on the video and motion graphics side of CC — Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects — but I will lightly touch on some of the other products like Continue reading

#PostChat: Ryan Connolly and crew from ‘Adobe and the Frog’

By Randi Altman

This week’s guests on #PostChat were Ryan Connolly, president of independent production company Triune Films, and the team behind the short Adobe and the Frog (Josh Connolly  Michael StarkSeth Worley). #PostChat’s Jesse Averna hosted.

Texas-based Triune Films produces short films and web series, and creates other content, such as projects like Adobe and the Frog.

When Adobe approached Ryan Connolly and crew with the idea of a love story, but using a guy and girl representing After Effects and Premiere, he thought it was hilarious. “It was such a funny concept to me,” he says. “I think they knew that we were a team that could pull it off with very little budget and even less time. I guess that is what we are known for… ha!” Continue reading

Vashi Nedomansky edits up a storm for ‘Sharknado 2’

By Randi Altman

When the over-the-top made-for-TV movie Sharknado splashed onto TV screens last year, the reaction was fierce. People, including high-profile celebs, took to Twitter to talk about it. Late-night talk show hosts included jokes about it in their monologues.

Sharknado, which told the story of a group of Angelenos trying to save themselves and loved ones from a deadly hurricane that brought with it deadly sharks — on land, in houses, on highways — became a pop-culture phenomenon.

The film’s popularity was not lost on its creators, The Asylum and SyFy, which are about to launch Sharknado 2: The Second One in June. Director Anthony C. Ferrante returns for the Continue reading

VFX supervisor turned director/writer launches HaZ Film

By Randi Altman

London — Hasraf “HaZ” Dulull, whose film Project Kronos is being produced by Benderspink (We’re The Millers), IAM Entertainment and financed by Armory films, has launched his own film production company, called HaZ Film.

Dulull, who started as a visual effects supervisor and expanded into writing, directing and producing, is also currently developing a slate of feature film projects with major Hollywood studios, details of which will be released later this year.

Establishing HaZ Film allows Dulull a platform from which to create. “All the short films I create as proof-of-concept films demonstrate my ability to write and direct, but they also Continue reading

The whirlwind known as NAB

By Randi Altman

Welcome to our NAB-themed weekly newsletter. While this space is typically filled with different types of articles, including artist Q&As, product reviews and user stories, this edition features product news and videos from the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas.

This NAB was postPerspective’s first, and it was a good one. We had a booth in South Hall Upper, where it was just quiet enough for our daily interviews with manufactures such as Avid, AJA, Blackmagic, Autodesk and Silverdraft, and users like as Terry Curren of AlphaDogs, Mark Raudonis of Bunim-Murray Productions, Todd Kilponen of The Colbert Report and Oscar-winning editor of Gravity Mark Sanger.

After our video interviews were done, Chris Fenwick and Alex MacLean of the Digital Cinema Continue reading

NAB: Bill Roberts from Adobe on updates to Creative Cloud

Las Vegas — Adobe’s Bill Roberts took time out during NAB 2014 to come by the postPerspective booth to discuss updates to the Creative Cloud video tools.

One of the updates is the integration of Adobe’s After Effects within Premiere. “One of the things we focused on was how do you keep the editor within the editing context as much as possible and allow them to do more,” he says. One area where editors are being asked to do more is promos — an area where After Effects is called on often.

Continue reading

NAB: Adobe updating video apps in Creative Cloud

San Jose — Adobe is coming to NAB with updates for all of the video apps within its Creative Cloud. All are targeted at making workflows in television, commercials and films more seamless for pros.

In addition to the updates, during a preNAB press conference, the company shared a big win for its editing tool: Adobe’s Premiere Pro is being used by two-time Academy Award-winning editor Kirk Baxter, ACE. He is cutting David Fincher’s upcoming feature “Gone Girl” with Premiere Pro CC. His two Oscars? Both were one for work on previous Fincher films, The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

In addition to major updates to Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe is also showing new features for Adobe Anywhere, the company’s collaborative workflow platform which allows teams using Adobe video apps to work together as they access and manage centralized media and assets across a network.

PremiereProCC_LiveText-templatessmall

Live Text templates

Key updates for Premiere Pro include Live Text templates that let users edit text in After Effects CC compositions directly in Premiere Pro CC; Autosave to Creative Cloud for automated backup of projects; and a new masking and tracking feature that provides accurate masks that follow subjects and blur out faces and logos.

In addition, the new Master Clip effect in Premiere Pro and SpeedGrade changes the effects applied to original clips and ripples down through all instances of the clip.

Updates to After Effects CC include keying effects to provide better results with compressed footage. And Typekit integration with Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC provides users with access to a growing library of fonts worth $30,000, that can be used on the desktop.

New features for Adobe Anywhere, include Hot Backup, which provides realtime back up of projects; Rough Cut Support to start editing rough cuts in Prelude CC and finish sequences in Premiere Pro CC; and After Effects CC media processing for direct integration between Anywhere and After Effects CC.

Main Photo Caption: Adobe’s Masking and Tracking capability in Premiere Pro CC.

Video Copilot’s Element 3D V.1.6.2 for After Effects

By Brady Betzel

For this review of one of most powerful plug-ins available for After Effects, I am testing Video Copilot’s Element 3D V.1.6.2, along with the Pro Shaders material library. If you are a current Element 3D user and haven’t upgraded from Element 3D 1.5 or earlier yet, do it now!

There are many significant additions, such as being able to generate a 3D position null object, replace model option, and even a scene relink option. You will also need After Effects CS3 or higher, including Creative Cloud, on either Mac or Windows. Be sure that you have a compatible system including the graphics card. You can check compatibility at Continue reading

Review: Nvidia’s Quadro K4000 running on an HP Z420

By Brady Betzel

As far as graphics cards go, Nvidia and AMD are at the head of the pack. Given Apple’s recent inclusion of AMD only on their latest Mac Pro, the competition is heating up.

For the longest time I built my own computers, not really focusing on my graphics card Continue reading

Quick Chat: Larry Jordan on NAB 2014

By Randi Altman

As we approach NAB 2014, postPerspective thought it would be fun to throw a few questions at Larry Jordan (www.larryjordan.biz), who will once again be at the show with his podcast Digital Production Buzz,  (@DPBuZZ).

What do you think will be the hot topic at NAB this year?
Clearly, 4K is all the rage. We’ll see 4K everywhere — cameras, monitors, software… What’s interesting to me, though, is that computers are essentially 4K-capable already. The real Continue reading

Review: Re:Vision Effects DE:Flicker After Effects plug-in

By Brady Betzel

The commercials that aired during the Olympics coverage showed off some of the latest and greatest camera work and visual effects I’ve seen on the small screen. Some were just breathtaking. I mean who doesn’t love snowboarders doing 1080s at around 5% speed over a 100-foot gap in the snow at night? I know I do. You may have also noticed strobing or Continue reading

Quick Chat: Nvidia’s Greg Estes

By Randi Altman

Greg Estes, Nvidia’s VP of marketing, recently took a few minutes out of his schedule to discuss the industry, trends and how the company goes about creating new products that target the needs of users.

The short answer is listening to what studios and broadcasters need. The long answer is… well give it a read and see for yourself.

Continue reading

SCAD students help design Super Bowl XLVIII opening animation

By Austin Shaw

At the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), collaborative learning is a core element of our mission. So much so that we have a department dedicated to building connections between the university and industry — the Collaborative Learning Center (CLC).

The CLC’s goal: to bring real-world creative briefs to the students at SCAD to solve challenges for industry partners. The once-in-a-college-career opportunity to work on the Continue reading

Matrox Mojito 4K now offers 4K 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering

Montreal — Matrox is now offering 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering via the company’s Matrox Mojito 4K quad 3G-SDI 4K video monitoring card for use with Adobe Premiere Pro CC on Windows platforms. Matrox Mojito 4K enables realtime monitoring and output of video footage at resolutions up to 4096 x 2160 and at frame rates up to 60 fps (4Kp60).

Matrox Mojito 4K, priced at $1995 US not including local taxes and delivery, is available now through a worldwide network of authorized dealers.

“With the Mojito 4K card, Matrox leads the way in 4K post production with Adobe Premiere Pro CC, providing the only solution that offers 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering for a complete end-to-end 4K delivery workflow,” says Wayne Andrews, product manager at Matrox. “Until now, all renders were done at a maximum resolution of 1080; Mojito 4K lets users ingest, edit, render and export in full 4K.”

Key features of Matrox Mojito 4K
– 4K (4096×2160), QFHD (3840 x 2160), 2K(2048×1080), HD and SD output resolutions
–  60 fps frame rate support, even at 4K resolution
–  2K, QFHD/UFD and full 4K 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering for Adobe Premiere Pro CC
–  SD, HD and 3G-SDI connectivity per SMPTE 259, 292 and 424/425M Level A and Level B mapping
–  8- and 10-bit YUV output at all resolutions and frames rates
– Up to 16 channels of SDI embedded audio support
– Bi-level and tri-level genlock input
– Single ¾-length PCIe card with five full-size BNC connectors directly on the card bracket
– Highly optimized Adobe Mercury Transmit plug-ins for Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe Prelude CC and Adobe SpeedGrade CC
– WYSIWYG support for Adobe After Effects CC and Photoshop CC

Support for 10-bit H.264 intra-frame rendering is part of Matrox driver release 1.1 for Windows, which is available now to registered users as a free download from the Matrox Website (http://www.matrox.com).

De:Flicker for After Effects smoothes high frame rate, timelapse capture footage

San Francisco — Re:Vision Effects is now offering De:Flicker for Adobe After Effects, which is designed to smooth out those annoying flicker and artifacts when shooting high frame rate or timelapse video.

De:Flicker (www.revisionfx.com/products/deflicker) not only fixes flicker from artificial light sources but also fixes flicker on multiple objects, even when those objects flicker at different rates.

De:Flicker also minimizes problems when shooting directly at light sources, causing them to “breathe” and change size when shot at higher frame rates.

De:Flicker will also help transform your timelapse photography so that viewers watch the footage you intended them to watch and not the pops that often accompany timelapse photography.

De:Flicker handles the common problems of color shifts, exposure and other camera setting and lighting inconsistencies that may occur from frame to frame. De:Flicker also tames the problems of clouds casting shadows at different places between frames, and performs well when objects appear or disappear from frame to frame.

Man-made light sources can cause havoc, especially now that cameras and smart phones are being made with the ability to shoot at higher and higher frame rates. Dealing with strobing and light source flicker has been very time consuming until now. Without De:Flicker, fixing the problems usually involves creating mattes followed by hand-adjusting the elements. Fixing a short scene using frame-by-frame color correction and zone corrections could take hours, when it is even possible. De:Flicker handles these problems automatically while retaining image detail.

De:Flicker is a set of three plug-ins: one specially designed for problems within high frame rate footage; one specially designed for timelapse photography; and a third one that analyzes and then stabilizes the color and luminance levels of your footage and can be used before more specific processing with one of the other two plug-ins.

De:Flicker works on any system running After Effects CS5, CS5.5 CS6 and CC, including versions activated by Adobe Cloud.

De:Flicker for Adobe After Effects costs $249.95 – but the company is offering a special introductory price, $199.95, through January 31, 2014.

ProMax’s Platform server adds cross-platform After Effects rendering

Santa Ana, California — ProMax Systems, a manufacturer of shared storage servers and video editing workstations, has added another significant feature set to the Platform shared storage server line. This new functionality allows both Windows and Mac clients running Adobe After Effects to submit render jobs to the Platform.

This capability eliminates running time-consuming renders on workstations, freeing them to get back to creative tasks.  According to ProMax (www.promax.com), the Platform servers are currently the only shared storage systems on the market that offer this cross-platform, After Effects rendering functionality.

Platform’s universal After Effects rendering capabilities will resonate with post facilities and creative agencies of all sizes that use the strengths of both Windows and Mac systems. The Platform AE Render tool not only leverages Platform’s high-performance CPU advantages but it also enables offloading rendering tasks from individual workstations to the Platform server’s powerful GPUs (via Platform’s expandable capability to add GPU cards). The Platform AE Render features are available now, and are included as part of the latest Platform Series models without additional cost.

Using Platform’s own management software, system administrators designate a Platform Space as an Adobe After Effects render location. Mac or Windows users connected to the Platform, with access to that space, can submit their render jobs to that location.  The Platform system watches the designated Platform Space for render submissions and manages the remote submission through the Platform’s After Effects render node software.

Adobe makes updates to Creative Cloud

San Jose, Calif. — Adobe is offering updates to Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Adobe Prelude CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC and Adobe Anywhere for video. These new video updates will became available to Creative Cloud members over the past 24 hours. A new Adobe After Effects CC update will follow soon.

Over the past six months, hundreds of new features have been added to the video apps in Adobe’s (www.adobe.com) Creative Cloud;  this is the fourth feature update this year for Adobe Premiere Pro.

Premiere-Pr-w-Direct-Link-project_web

Premiere-Pr-w-Direct-Link.

Some of the newest features include:
•Adobe Premiere Pro CC adds Open CL performance enhancements, media management improvements and editing enhancements for even greater workflow efficiency, and delivers more intuitive voiceover recording.
•After Effects CC offers customizable output of file name and path templates, improved snapping behavior, enhanced scripting options and the ability to migrate user settings when updating to newer versions.
•Speedgrade adds expanded camera format support in Direct Link mode.
•Adobe Media Encoder includes Sony XAVC format.
•Adobe Anywhere introduces performance improvements and diagnostic tools for monitoring system status.

Artist David Lewandowski has some fun with ‘Late For Meeting’

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LOS ANGELES — David Lewandowski is an LA-based, director and animation artist, whose work includes the animated graphics and opening title sequence for Tron:Legacy, as well as the animated graphics for Oblivion.

He also recently created many of the animations and visual effects on the surreal Tiny Tortures video, starring Elijah Wood.

In late October, Lewandowski released the short film Late for Meeting (http://www.dlew.me/late-for-meeting), which is a companion piece to his 2011 short film Going to the Store (http://dlew.me/going-to-the-store).

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Video Collaboration: New Ideas Seminars to launch in New York, LA in December

Axle Video, Adobe and IBM are teaming up to present free seminars highlighting new trends in the media business. One takes place on December 10 in New York City, at 353 West 46th Street. The other on December 12 in LA at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. They will start at 10am.

Video Collaboration: New Ideas will highlight a wave of technology making it possible for creative teams to be far more productive, both internally and with their clients, than has previously been possible. The focus will be on real-world applications, and Axle, which makes media management software, and its partners will be providing the opportunity for attendees to spend hands-on time with their technologies at the events, as well as ask in depth questions from the companies’ product experts.

Chris Dee, an industry consultant with management experience at major broadcasters including HBO, NBC and Disney, is the leadoff speaker at both events, said “I’m delighted to be part of this initiative to bring cutting-edge information and perspectives to media professionals in the country’s two biggest markets.  It’s exciting to be part of the project and we’re looking forward to great attendance and participation by some industry leaders.”

Here is the schedule:

10am: Big Picture Overview – What’s happening across the broadcast and postproduction industries today.  Chris Dee, principal at DeeTour Consulting and a pioneer of digital workflows at HBO, NBC, Discovery Channel, and Disney.

10:30am: Distributed Editing – It’s been talked about as a possibility for years, but now it’s real.  Dennis Radeke will review and discuss how Adobe’s Anywhere technology lets you edit with familiar tools on lightweight workstations, far from where your high res media are stored.

11am: Easy Media Management – This used to be a contradiction in terms; we’ll explain how you can simply, affordably add media management to current workflows and shared storage.  Axle Video’s Sam Bogoch will show you how to stop hunting around and start being productive!

11:30am: Truly Scalable Archiving – Archiving once involved complex user interfaces and custom setups; worst of all, vendors’ unique storage formats meant you couldn’t even exchange data.  IBM’s Dave Taylor shows us how LTFS LE is making scalable, searchable, exchangeable archives a reality.

12pm: Q&A and Demos – Stay with us for an open-ended discussion in the main room, and technology demos in the foyer.  We’ll make sure there’s plenty off opportunity for hands-on interaction.

Registration for the events here: www.tinyurl.com/newideasny and www.tinyurl.com/newideashollywood.

 

Maxon upgrades Cineware, tightens integration in latest version of After Effects CC

FRIEDRICHSDORF, GERMANY – Maxon (www.maxon.net), makers of 3D modeling, painting, animation and rendering solutions, has upgraded its Cineware offering now available in the latest version of Adobe After Effects CC. The enhancements further the strategic relationship between Maxon and Adobe to deliver improved integration and performance between Maxon’s 3D application, Cinema 4D, and Adobe’s After Effects.

Since the June introduction of After Effects CC, pros have benefitted from the seamless integration provided by Cineware that establishes a bridge between the two applications and allows users to open any 3D file that Cinema 4D supports directly in After Effects that can be edited and enhanced using the “Live 3D pipeline.”

Compositing passes can also be selected directly in After Effects for editing, even by users who are new to 3D. This version of After Effects CC also debuted Cinema 4D Lite, a limited, yet feature-rich version of Cinema 4D integrated within After Effects that gives artists access to an exceptional selection of the software’s functionality.

The new updates to the Cineware workflow, available in After Effects CC, are designed to optimize performance and enhance creative capabilities in the video workflow. Last month, Maxon introduced CINEMA 4D Release 15 (R15) marked by significant enhancements to modeling, text creation, rendering and sculpting. Access to many of the new capabilities in R15 are also available in the latest version of After Effects CC.

Updates to Cineware include:

– Options Dialog Box – New settings are available in the Cineware
– Options Dialog Box allowing users to select which version of Cinema 4D (R14 or later) should be started automatically. This is especially beneficial to users who have fully-featured versions of Cinema 4D Studio or Cinema 4D Broadcast installed so  they can select the preferred Cinema 4D software version of choice more easily.

– Rendering Enhancements: New rendering capabilities are available in the After Effects CC Cineware viewport for users who choose to use an edition of Cinema 4D other than Cinema 4D Lite, including the Physical Renderer. Maxon’s Physical Renderer offers artists real-world camera functions for added cinematic possibilities. It works with Intel’s optimized Embree Raytracing Engine, for rendering speed improvements without compromising image quality.

For After Effects CC wanting Cinema 4D instead of Cinema 4D Lite, Maxon is offering an upgrade path to Cinema 4D R15. They are pointing people to their Cinema 4D Broadcast and Cinema 4D Studio pages on their Website.

Adobe updating video tools in Creative Cloud, Anywhere

SAN JOSE, CA — Adobe is talking updates, to be available in October, to video tools within its Adobe Creative Cloud — there will be over 150 new features that include new capabilities in Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe After Effects CC, Adobe SpeedGrade CC, Adobe Prelude CC, Adobe Media Encoder CC and Adobe Story CC Plus.

These updates are meant to help video pros collaborate and deliver high-quality productions across multiple screens. Important updates will also be added to Adobe Anywhere for video, which enables large virtual teams of talent to efficiently shoot, log, edit, share and finish video productions together.

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